Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Jan 05, 2012 | Comments (0)

EPIPHANY II John 1:43-51 "You believe because I said I saw you under the fig tree. I will show you greater things than these."

Rational understanding knows how it feels to be out of the Presence.

Spiritual understanding knows how it feels to be in the Presence.

Sometimes we get deeper insights when we treat the scripture in CIA fashion. We check out the usual suspects, examine the evidence rationally and then look for the clues consciously. Today's scripture calls for such an investigation. The usual suspects include Jesus, of course. Then there is Philip, who found Nathaniel and told him, "We have found the one, Jesus of Nazareth."  "Nazareth, can anything good come from there?" Nathaniel asked.  "Come and see," said Philip.

The evidence is when Jesus saw Nathaniel He said, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."

"How do you know me?" Nathaniel asks.

Jesus answers, "I saw you under the fig tree."

Nathaniel declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel." Jesus said, "You believe.You will see greater things than that. You will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Our first bite of the apple is when we read the Gospel with rational understand and look at the physical evidence. The evidence is, there are angels and there is a ladder. There is a similar scene in the Old Testament. It is in the narrative of Jacob and his ladder with angels.

The promise of angels ascending and descending could be over Jesus, perhaps a vision for Nathaniel, or even some future event. We look for the angels ascending and descending in the Gospels. The ladder might be our access to Heaven. It might be Jesus referring to His resurrection, the empty tomb or Pentecost. Yet there is nowhere in the Gospels any evidence of the angels or the ladder occurring. At this moment the case runs cold.

As the CIA would suggest, "follow the clues". This takes spiritual understanding and conscious wondering. It leads to Jacob. In his early life Jake was known as a cheater. He cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright and then the blessing. Esau was about to kill him. Jacob had to flee. Now he was in fear of Esau and poorly equipped for the journey. It was his first time ever away from home and mother. That night in the cold desert there was a vision of angels, a ladder and God's Promise to be with him always. This was his first real spiritual experience. When he awoke, his words were, "Surely God was here and I did not know it" Gen. 28:16. He could not believe God could be with him as the cheater, but now he knew the grace of God's Love.

For Nathaniel, he could not believe anything good could come from Nazareth. Suddenly he discovered the Messiah he was looking and praying for. He was here and from of all places, Nazareth.

Suddenly he might have said, "surely God was with me and I did not know it." Only spiritual understanding knows the experience of the Presence that they shared. Nothing had changed for either of them, yet both came to recognize the difference being out or in the Presence makes. The meaning of the story for Jacob and Nathaniel as well as for us is we need not put up barriers that block the promise of His Presence.


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